The 7 Steps After Filing for Divorce

The 7 Steps After Filing for Divorce

Most people who file for a divorce do not have an attorney to represent them. They confident on their own because, while the initial filing process is a little complicated, most people can figure it out.  The next steps get considerably more complicated and many people get frustrated and let the divorce linger for years at a time. Couples move out, separate and move on with their life, content to let the courts hold onto the “divorce” papers. Often I meet with clients who have moved on with their life and ignored the lingering divorce filing until they want to get married again, their spouse refuses to continue supporting the family, or other life events remind them they are still married. In the mean time changes in family structure, financial increase or decrease, and other life factors may have significantly altered the issues of property division, child support, and spousal support. It is almost always in a couples best interest to move through the divorce process as quickly as possible. The following steps may help (of course every situation is unique so feel free to contact Stucki Law Firm if you have a question about your case)   Step 1: File  File for Divorce – CHECK, you’ve done that. Step 2: Serve  Serve the papers on your spouse. The court doesn’t even consider itself to have jurisdiction over your divorce until you serve the papers on your spouse. That means the clock hasn’t even started for your divorce. If you have not served your spouse, do it ASAP  (click here to find out how to serve another person with the divorce papers) Step 3: Wait “Hey, I am already waiting!” you...

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Reviews of the Best New Divorce Options in California

Reviews of the Best New Divorce Options in California

A steady and ongoing policy shift in California makes family law matters more accessible to regular people.  This has led to the development of new and user-friendly ways to get divorced. When you think of divorce, you probably think of lawyers, paperwork, and court rooms.  But there are many alternatives to a litigated divorce, and more and more people are taking advantage of them.  In California 67% of family law cases involve one or both parties not having an attorney.  By the time the case is decided, that percentage jumps to around 80%. ((Judicial Council of California, Statewide Action Plan for Serving Self-Represented Litigants (2004), available at: stuckilawfirm.com/docs/action-plan-for-self-represented-litigants.pdf))  So much of what goes on in family law courts is not led by attorneys, but by unrepresented parties. California has changed its laws and policy to become more supportive of this huge population of unrepresented people (called Pro Se or Pro Per).  The goal is to move family law cases through the courts more quickly and effectively.   The steady policy shift that makes divorce more accessible to regular people led to the development of alternative methods of divorce.  The following alternative options are almost always cheaper and faster than divorce with lawyers. Divorce Mediation Instead of lawyers arguing in court before a judge who ends up making the decisions, you and your spouse develop your own agreement.  Coming to an agreement with the person who you are divorcing is not easy.  So a divorce mediator will provide a safe and confidential environment and knowledge of the law that can help ensure an agreement can be made.  When you come to an agreement, the mediator then writes a Marital...

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Marital Settlement Agreements: A Trial Alternative

Marital Settlement Agreements: A Trial Alternative

A Martial Settlement Agreement (MSA) is a legally binding contract between divorcing couples.  In California, a judge must rule on every single aspect of your divorce. In litigation (trials and hearings) the judge will consider the arguments and evidence that the attorneys presented and make a ruling that they think best fits the law. However, if the couple has a Marital Settlement Agreement, the judge will simply rule that those agreements are the terms of your divorce.  There is no need for a trial or hearings.  In fact, under most circumstances the couple never even appears in court.   Agreements Included in a Marital Settlement Agreement. Depending on your situation, a Marital Settlement Agreement will typically include arrangments for: Child Custody and Visitation Child Support Spousal Support (Alimony) Division of Property Miscellaneous Agreements   Child Custody and Visitation Agreement In California there are two kinds of “custody” status: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who can make important decisions for the children (health care, education, and welfare).  Physical custody refers to whom the children will live or spend significant amounts of time.   Both types of custody can be joint (shared) or sole (one parent only). A Marital Settlement Agreement typically will also include a Visitation Agreement, also called a Parenting Plan. This plan usually includes a visitation and holiday schedule and transportation agreement.   Child Support Child support in California is based on a formula that all courts and jurisdictions follow. Basically the formula factors in the income and certain expenses of each spouse, the number of children, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. California law will not allow...

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